Improving workforce readiness and availability
Searcy, AR
05/25/2018 04:03 PM

The Existing Industries (EI) held a Manufacturing and Distribution Career Fair March 29th at Searcy High School (SHS). The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce Be Proud Be Proud Truck was set up at the event. A video was created by SHS student, Dakota Marsh and shown to the student body and the School Board. The video showed successful local employees in their workplace. Representatives from local industry, the military, technical schools, Searcy Fire Department and Searcy Police department participated and highlighted career opportunities at their businesses. A second Career Fair is planned for September 10-13 and the Be Pro – Be Proud truck has been reserved and will split time between Searcy and Riverview High Schools. 


EI committee Chair Bill Marion, recently attended meetings at Pangburn and Riverview High Schools related to the committee’s initiative to improve workforce readiness and availability. He met with Pangburn Superintendent David Roland and several members of his Staff.  Also present were Paul Vitale, the creator of High Performance U, the soft skills curriculum used at Pangburn and 120 other schools, and Kathi Turner and Dr. Cheryl Weckmeier of the Arkansas Dept. of Career Education. The meeting focused on the results that Pangburn is achieving with the use of the High Performance U curriculum, and the future direction they have planned.


Mr. Roland and his Staff are focused on using High Performance U to change the culture in the school and to produce graduates, whether college bound or not, who will be sought after by employers because of their leadership qualities and overall workforce readiness.


The EI and the Chamber have been asked to step up their involvement in this initiative to include  providing internships and financial support for expanding the program. What remains to be completed is to build a business case that would monetize the gains we would see over time in workforce readiness and availability should this program become a cornerstone of our effort to achieve measurable improvement. Mr. Roland requested the EI committee engage in classrooms and events at the school that will help connect the EI needs in our facilities with the elements of High Performance U being taught in Pangburn.


Bill and Chamber Vice President, Tara Cathey met with Riverview Superintendent David Rutledge and members of his Staff. Robin English, will be coordinating the Career Fair at Riverview the week of Sept 10.  Ms. English has asked if the EI could participate in workshops at the school in conjunction with the Career Fair. Topics would be such things as Resume Writing, Interview Skills, What to expect after an applicant is offered a job, etc. Riverview would like to produce a video that would feature members of the EI addressing the importance of specific topics that they are teaching.


Both schools asked for more internship opportunities, certifications that would add value to an applicant's resume, and more opportunities for Plant Tours by both students and faculty. Both are also interested in an Industry Signing Day event that would honor graduates who have accepted job offers upon graduation.

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